This past Lent I didn’t “give up” anything, other than time. For, the Lenten spiritual discipline I chose was to read the entire Bible, cover-to-cover in 90 days. The “90” days thing was handy, in that the season of Lent is 40 days and the season of Easter is 50 days—so, voila! 90 days.
I know that there’s a resource which you can buy [The Bible in 90 Days: Cover to Cover in 12 Pages a Day (New International Version)] to do this, but instead I used the free Bible app by YouVersion on my iPhone and iPad.
I LOVE this app. It’s with me everywhere I go, and I use it several times a day. It’s easy to navigate, includes a ton of translations to choose from (I even had the need to use one of the several Portuguese translations a few weeks back…) and notes and progress sync between the applications on the two devices. In the app there are several reading plans to choose from, and when you select one it walks you through the readings for each day.
Of course, this wasn’t my first time through the Good Book, but doing the whole thing in less than three months was enlightening for several reasons:
- At this pace you really get to notice the forest, instead of just the trees. Don’t get me wrong, I love the details. When I typically read the Bible I end up shuttling back and forth from the Bible to concordance to theological dictionary as I go verse to verse. But, when you’re reading 10-20 chapters a day (on average) you can’t do that. So, instead of seeing details, I ended up seeing larger patterns.
- I got to experience the great diversity of biblical writings and writers one after another. The great narratives of Genesis and Exodus gave way to the law giving in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, which eventually gave way to the poetry and song of the Psalms. Every day, or at least every few days, I was treated to something new.
- Because of the pace and the frequency of reading (every day for 25-45 minutes) the readings became a part of my prayer life. I was able to pray my way through the Bible, and felt like I was reading with God. Some of this was because I did it very early in the morning before anyone else in the house was up—but part of it was just the nature of the plan.
I also really appreciated the flexibility the app has built in. It will literally read the text to you. And, not in some robotic voice, but in a very nice recording. There were a few days at the end of the reading plan where I was doing a lot of driving, and wasn’t able to do my usual reading in the morning pattern. So, while driving I fired up the app and listened to the reading for the day.
All in all, I think I may have found a spiritual discipline that will keep me grounded for the next few Lents and Easters.